-II-The Physiology of Love & My Second Conclusion

-II-The Physiology of Love & My Second Conclusion

1-The Physiology of Love

To explain the physiological source and manifestation of love, we need to give a brief insight into the mechanism of brain activities in general.

The nervous system responsible for processing information is called the central nervous system (CNS) and consists of the brain and the spinal cord. This is composed of two types of cells called neurons and glia. Neurons are the basic information processing structures in the CNS and glia are their helpers (providing structural framework to synapsis and after math support). We have 200 billion neurons in one brain, and 10,000 specific type for each task that the brain does. Their general function is to receive INPUT ‘information’ (from the senses), process that information then send it as OUTPUT to other areas that lead to resolution of actions, feelings, emotions, sensations, and every thing else.) All these receiving/sending functions happen through connections among the neurons called SYNAPSES. The number of these synapses is so large that it is predicted to be greater than the number of starts in the entire universe.

The love symptom: Thanks to Neuro-imaging, nowadays we can map the brain activities into the CNS, and tell the location of most feelings.
Dr Ortigue and colleagues from Syracuse and Western Virginia universities and the University Hospital of Geneva, believe that there are 12 areas of the brain involved in passionate love – the caudate nucleus/putamen, thalamus, ventral tegmental area, insula, anterior cingulate, posterior hippocampus, occipital, occipito-temporal/fusiform region, angular gyrus/temporo-parietal junction, dorsolateral middle frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, and the precentral gyrus.
According to an fMRI-scan-based study, romantic love takes place in the Caudate Nucleus and Putamen areas of the brain, which is part of the Striatum, a subcortical part of the forebrain and a critical component of the reward system, which are associated with the brain chemical dopamine and with sensations of euphoria and reward. Through a study based on experiment with 17 man and women described as being truly and deeply in love with their partners, it was registered that other brain activities was also seen to increase after presenting the lover with photos of their beloved. This increase took place in the post-erior hippocampus, an area involved in memory and mental associations. However, there was a considerable drop in activity in areas associated with anxiety and fear. Deep love involves brain areas that specialises in emotion, motivation, reward, social cognition, attention, and self-representation or body image. Increase in activities in these areas lead to similar change in the levels of chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, vasopressin, and a decrease of serotonin, which results in the classic love symptoms, like obsessively thinking about the beloved, craving for a union with him/her, euphoria, and greater energy.
The collection of brain areas that are active in passionate or romantic love appear to be unique to that particular kind of love, with research showing that maternal and unconditional love involve other areas.
Whereas a study at the University of Montreal into unconditional love (as practiced by Buddhist monks) shows that brain regions not implicated in romantic or maternal love (including BA 13 and BA 32) were activated.

An MRI based study was conducted on Tibetan monks practicing “love kindness” proved that the medial prefrontal cortex was activated (an area usually associated with empathy) and the Striatum (an area associated with other types of love, such as maternal love).

3- An fMRI Scan based study on maternal love found the location to be the caudate and putamen (Striatus), Insula and ACC, exactly like pure romantic love when it does not involve sexual desire. The most important fundamental in maternal love is found to be the oxytocin’s ability to shut off certain areas of the brain that usually stirs negative ideas and uncomfortable feelings such as the Putamen (part of the Striatum) which is capable of very negative thoughts.


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-I- A brief Historical Definition of Pure Love & My First Conclusion

-I- A brief Historical Definition of Pure Love & My First Conclusion

1-A brief Historical Definition of Pure Love

Pure love was given many names in Middle and Far Eastern religions and ancient Greek philosophies. In Hindu, it is called prema and means an elevated love, a sacrament. It preaches that one gives up selfishness. It is loving without expecting anything in return. Krishna the Hindu highest deities and Radha his closest worshipper and who is also worshipped along with him, call for this kind of love. In Buddhism, Metta requires benevolence, kindness and good will for everyone including one’s enemies. In Skhism, Waheguru is one of the most important truths to instil virtue in people. In Christianity God is love, and unconditional love is a requirement for everyone and the highest of virtues: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Deut. 6:5. Also, in Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

In Greek philosophy: Agape is the highest form of love. It is based on charitable kindness and unconditional love which transcends the physical reality.

In Neuroscience: A team of Neuroscientists (Beauregard and colleagues) wanted to conduct studies on unconditional love based on Neuro – Imaging. They first needed to describe this concept of unconditional love, providing the following definition:
(…) distinct from the empathy and compassion constructs. Empathy is commonly defined as an affective response that stems from the apprehension of another’s emotional state (e.g., sadness, happiness, pain), and which is comparable to what the other person is feeling (Eisenberg, 2000). This affective response is not unconditional and does not involve feelings of love. Compassion refers to an awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the desire to alleviate that suffering (Steffen and Masters, 2005). In contrast to compassion, unconditional love is not specifically associated with suffering.

As we can see, in order to avoid looking at all the locations in the brain, concerning other types of love, the team had to consider unconditional love as different in essence from all the rest. And so, they came up with the above definition!

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